Alcohol Consumption in India
According to the NSSO (National Sample Survey Office) report for 2011-2012, an average Indian from the rural belt is estimated to consume about 220 ml of alcohol a week totaling up to about 11.4 litres a year, while in urban areas, the average is pegged at about 5 litres a year.
According to a report on alcohol consumption released by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in mid-May this year, the per capita alcohol consumption in the country has increased considerably – the growth is pegged at about 55 percent – the third largest growth noted in any country of the world. The growth in alcohol consumption can be estimated with reference to the per capita consumption of alcohol figures for 2003-2005, which was estimated at about 1.6 liters.
Alcohol is a growing menace in the country and one of the biggest health risks posed to Indian society. Some 13 percent of Indians are daily consumers and about half of them are heavy to hazardous drinkers. Apart from the variety of health hazards that habitual drinkers are exposed to, alcohol is also the leading cause for loss of productivity in the country apart from financial stress, poverty, violence, and abuse.
What is a Dry Day?
In India, certain days of the year are set aside as Dry Days. Sale of alcohol is banned on these days. In India, very few days are observed as dry days across the nation. Days of national importance, such as Independence Day, Republic Day, and Gandhi Jayanti are nation-wide dry days, but most states come up with their own lists. In Maharashtra (including Mumbai), for example, Id-e-Milad (January), Martyrs’ Day (January), Guru Ravidas Jayanti (February), Swami Dayanand Saraswati Jayanti (February), Maha Shivratri (February), Holi (March), Ram Navami (March), Mahavir Jayanti (April), Good Friday (April), Maharashtra Day (May), Buddha Purnima (May), Eid-ul-Fitr (July), Janmashtami (September), Id-ul-Adha (September), Dussehra (October), Muharram (October), Valmiki Jayanti, (October), Diwali (November), Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom Day (November), and Guru Nanak Jayanti (November) were all declared additional dry days in 2015. Each state, similarly, comes up with its own list. State and union election days are also declared dry days.
Where is Alcohol Sold on Dry Days?
Public sale of alcohol is banned on dry days. This, however, does not prevent regular consumers from stocking up or drinking in the privacy of their homes. Nor does it prevent private parties from serving spirits. Regular consumers who have not stocked up suggest two places that sell alcohol even on dry days – illegal shacks in the outskirts of the cities and metropolitan areas and select Gentlemen’s clubs. While most of these transactions are conducted in a clandestine fashion, they are not exempt from legal consequences if the trade comes to light.
National Dry Days
Election Days – Abstinence on election days is of paramount importance to avoid violence and any such disruptive incidents as the state or nation goes to poll. Election days in the country are dry days and alcohol sale is banned.
Republic Day – On 26 January, 1950, the Constitution of India was adopted by the nation. It is out of respect and regard for the supreme document of Indian laws and regulations, for the nation’s legislative mechanism and law enforcement that Republic Day is observed as a dry day.
Martyrs’ Day – Martyrs’ Day, often referred to as Sarvodaya Day, is held on 30 January each year in memory of all those who gave up their lives in the service of the nation (including Armed Forces personnel). While this is not a national dry day, most states of India ban sale of alcohol on Martyrs’ Day.
Independence Day – India gained its independence from the British Raj on 15 August, 1947. Having overthrown centuries of oppressive rule, nationalists won a well-earned struggle on this day. As a mark of respect to all those who have sacrificed their lives and well-being in an attempt to free the nation, sale of alcohol is prohibited on Independence Day across the country.
Gandhi Jayanti – 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi is a dry day in India. Sale of alcohol is prohibited on this day as a mark of respect to one of India’s greatest leaders. MK Gandhi, popularly called the Father of the Nation, believed in abstinence from alcohol and other forms of intoxication that did not allow citizens to realize their potential and serve the nation.
While most of the states and union territories of India freely sell alcohol, certain states and UTs have imposed a blanket ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol. If you live in or are visiting one of these states, every day is a likely to be a dry day.
The birth state of Mahatma Gandhi has a blanket ban on the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol and spirits. While certain exemptions are certainly made; for example, foreigners visiting the state may obtain a limited alcohol license for a short period. Despite the ban, Gujarat has a thriving illegal alcohol trade festering. Also, neighboring states and UTs have become alcohol havens due to this ban.
Kerala is one of the latest states to impose a blanket ban on manufacture and sale of alcohol. What is strange, though, is that the state government excludes toddy from the ban, despite the fact that chances of contamination of toddy and locally brewed spirits is much higher than that of branded alcohol. Prior to the ban, Kerala was one of the highest alcohol consumers in the country and the ban was imposed amidst much opposition.
Despite being a tourist paradise, this Union Territory has been firm on its ‘no alcohol’ policy. Visitors or inhabitants keen on a drink need to visit the Bangaram Island, which is the only place alcohol is legally available in this archipelago.
A total alcohol ban was imposed in the state in 1991. This was partially lifted, i.e., the hilly districts were made exempt from the ban in 2002. Despite the ban, alcoholism is widespread and local brews are popular in the state of Manipur.
Nagaland is another northeastern state with an alcohol ban in force. Since 1989, no manufacture and trade has been permitted, but the ban is weakly enforced.
This state is likely to join the league from 1 April 2016. While campaigning for the Bihar state assembly elections, JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar had said to the women voters that he would ban alcohol in the state if he is re-elected. He kept his word and made a formal announcement on Thursday, saying that strong action would be taken against those who flout the mandate.
Read About Mahatma Gandhi
2nd October 1869: Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, is born
Mahatma Gandhi Biography
About Gandhi Jayanti
Mahatma Gandhi’s Thoughts
Famous Quotes of Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi and Secularism
Economic Ideas of Gandhi
Quit India Movement
Emergence of Gandhi
Places Related to Mahatma Gandhi